Monthly Archives: October 2011

One Brief Shining Moment


Camelot. A beautiful and stirring musical. If you don’t remember the title song, here’s a link to it so you can listen to it while you read my blog (it will open up in another page).

One brief shining moment. Ever had one? Of course you have. We all have. Maybe it was the time your fifth grade teacher praised your work. You knew you’d done a good job, but you never expected his or her praise.

Perhaps it was the time you planted a garden. After it had time to grow, you looked out at it and thought, “This is so beautiful. And I played a big part in making it so!.”

One of your brief, shining moments may have been the day your son or daughter was born. If you’re a woman, you probably thought, “What a miracle. This beautiful baby actually grew inside me.” If you’re a man, you may have said to yourself, “I can’t believe I had a part in this incredible moment.”

A brief shining moment could have occurred when you graduated from school, got a raise or promotion at your job,  played a part in a school or professional play, had someone call you and compliment you on something, and they’d never even met you in person!

Brief and shining moments happen all the time, don’t they? Another example is you making a decision to marry the person you love or moving to a different place because you know there is more opportunity there. And, they are not dependent on another person. That’s the same as saying another person can’t make you happy. Happiness  comes from within.

What would happen if you wrote down your list of brief shining moments and carried it around with you? Then, when you felt yourself getting upset by another person, place or thing, you could pull out your list and take yourself back to one of those moments.

I think our lives would have much less stress in them if we all did this on a regular basis. After all, who could stay upset knowing they’re in “Camelot” for one brief shining moment?

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Phone Calls and a Boy with a Blue Orchid


For my friend, taken by KeithCR of Melbourne, Australia http://morguefile.com/creative/keithcr

I’ve had many people tell me that they have friends with whom they haven’t talked in a long time. However, when they do talk with them, it’s as if no time had gone by. That happened to me tonight.

I love Facebook. The main reason why I love Facebook is that it puts people in touch with old friends, lovers, family members or school teachers, just to name a few. A long time ago I invited an old high school friend to become my “friend” on Facebook.  I last saw him four years ago at a high school reunion.

Tonight I received a message back from him and gave him a call. That’s what it was like. It was like we had no time go by since we last talked. That is not to say we haven’t both had life-changing events take place in the meantime. We have. His wife of many years died of cancer a couple of years ago. This year he got a staph infection in his knee. He’s on his seventh round of antibiotics.

I, on the other hand, haven’t had a date in 10 years! I purposed distanced myself from men after my last relationship went south. I have had a chronic illness this year, and certainly my prednisone is, in some ways, comparable to his antibiotics.

But talking with him made me feel warm and fuzzy. I was happy to tell him I’d put him on my prayer list, and we both shared how we get so lonely at times.

And we are not alone. I have several friends who are alone. I know they get lonely too, but we don’t often share that. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because it makes us vulnerable in ways we don’t want to be.

As for me, I hug my kitties at night. That helps. Besides, I couldn’t get away without doing that because they pester me until I do! I hug my pillow, too.  And I pray a lot. Praying helps in every situation, good and bad. At least that’s what I believe.

So today was glorious. I felt better than I have in a VERY long time. I actually went to Costco and walked all over the store, even though I only needed one thing. Then I went to Ingles to get some more Weight Watchers food (mostly fruit and yogurt on this trip), and I walked all over THAT store, too…WITHOUT getting out of breath once! Yeah!

While I was sitting and having a Diet Coke, I watched people at Costco. I love watching people. You learn so much about them. All of a sudden, a man and his two sons walked by. One of the boys was carrying a blue orchid. Now, I must say here that I am NOT a fan of blue orchids. I think they are one flower that deserved not to be dyed. Regardless, I watched the boy hold the orchid up high and pictured the look on his mother’s face as he presented it to her. A big smile came to my face.

And so, I end this blog dedicating that blue orchid to my old friend. He’s worth every petal.

I hope you have a friend or friends like I do. They are such wonderful additions to our lives.

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Comforting Things


Sunset in Savannah, Ga Photo by Ellie Kuykendall

I’m sure we all have memories of various things that comforted us when we were kids. For some of us, including me, some of those things still do!

Sipping hot chocolate on a cool fall evening warms my body and soul.

Sitting in my favorite chair petting my cat who’s on my lap – how could anyone have high blood pressure with softness like that at their fingertips?

Eating popcorn at the movies. Now I have to admit that generally speaking, the popcorn at the movies these days leaves much to be desired. But no matter how much I resolve myself not to buy it, I always do. They just go together, popcorn and the movies.

Looking at my garden. This year, it was all in containers. Well, not quite. The side and front beds have azaleas, gardenias, Gerber daisies, some zinnias and one dahlia plant. But just the same, looking at it is so comforting.  All that hard work, and the hard work of the wonderful people who helped. A mutual effort to beautify my yard. What a blessing!

Getting a phone call from a friend you haven’t heard from in awhile – just when you need it most. Nothing worse than being confined to the house most of the time and needing and wanting to hear voices of people you love. That happened tonight, and tomorrow she’s coming over to help me out for awhile.

Little objects. I have several objects that give me great pleasure just to look at them. One is a pink satin glass rose bowl I bought at the first auction I ever attended. It was $10 then and has gone up in value some, but I just love looking at it. Also, my grandmother’s fan, which my sister had framed, and the colorful paperweight my other sister gave me a long time ago.

Last night I wrote that I felt I have had an extraordinary life. The most extraordinary thing about my life is the number of people who have loved or liked me. And that, too,  is the most comforting thing I can think of. What about you?

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An Extraordinary Life


I intend to look like this again by June, 2012! That will be after the effects of that nasty Prednisone no longer show up in my body!

No, this blog isn’t about Steve Jobs, whose life certainly was extraordinary. The newspapers and Internet were full of pieces singing his praises today. He was an amazing man.

This blog is about me. I realized today that I’ve had an extraordinary life, and I thought I’d share some of it with you.

I was blessed to be born into a family that cared about each other and which had parents who were able to provide us with everything we needed and much of what we wanted. I never did get that Chevrolet for my high school graduation, but I was allowed to drive the family car, even after I had a wreck in it!

I’ve lived in six states, the first of which was California, where I was born and brought up in a lovely home, immaculately cared for by my mom, my grandmother and me and my two sisters. (Dad and the boys took care of the outside, of course. They mowed the lawn, painted the white fence and took the car when it needed an oil change.) That’s how it was back then. Men did men’s work and women did women’s work and rarely did the twain ever meet.

I went to college first at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. I loved it. I loved being away from home, and I loved being a college student. It was a gorgeous campus. I fell in love in my sophomore year and dropped out of school. I got to see nearly every state in the union as a result of that marriage. My daughter’s dad worked for a traveling opera company. We wound up in New Paltz, NY during the summer of 1968, just down the road from yes, you guessed it, Woodstock. But we had to work, so we couldn’t go!

Later we wound up in Florida, where we lived for most of the rest of our marriage and where my only child, a much beloved and long-awaited daughter, was born. While we were married we went to lots of Bluegrass festivals, which I never appreciated until many years later. After the opera company I worked as a telephone operator at the old fashioned switchboard and cord contraption. I used to regularly get in trouble for talking with my best friend, the coolest hippie I ever knew.

We eventually moved to California, where my husband was going to graduate school and where we finally split up in a very nasty divorce. So much pain around that divorce that I thought I’d never live through it, but somehow I did.

A few years later, I went back to finish my degree, but it hasn’t done me a whole lot of good. The best thing that came from it was being accepted to teach English to the managers of Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea almost 15 years later. Before I went to Korea I went to Mexico and after I got back, I traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Chattanooga and Savannah, two very cool cities.

I eventually went back to South Korea for another 10 months. That trip didn’t work out the way I’d planned, but I wound up learning a lot in the process.

I’ve had a business burn down, an apartment catch on fire, a house flood and have been evicted once. I’ve had more financial troubles than I care to state, horrible arguments with family and now I have a chronic illness that has kept me mostly house-bound for the last eight months or so. Lots of other stuff has gone on as well.

But I’ve had an extraordinary life. I’ve had the privilege of touching people’s hearts and lives in three other countries. People I don’t even know have written to me praising my writing. God has occasionally nudged me in the right direction, and He has helped turn me around when I was going the wrong way. I’ve met some amazing people who have shared their experiences, strength and hope with me and some others who have needed mine. For most of my life I haven’t liked myself. I don’t know why. But I do know that, as Bob Dylan said, “The times, they are a changin’.”

At least today they are. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t deep in despair a few days ago. I was. But today I am not, and that is the most extraordinary thing of all – I have been given the gift of being able to bounce back no matter what befalls me and whether it is an act of God or something of my own making.

I’m not saying it’s been easy. It hasn’t. But what I’ve noticed more than anything is that God is always there with me, no matter what is going on in my life. I may not always recognize it at the time, but I’ve come to realize this is true over the course of my whole life.

And you, my fair reader, are part of the many blessings I’ve had bestowed on me. Thanks for your reading, and thanks for being you! You, too, are extraordinary, even though you might not have thought of yourself as being that way.

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Facing the Inevitable


This is not a happy post, so if that’s what you came for today, I’m sorry to disappoint you.

No, this post is about my friend Janet, the one who has cancer, the one who has kept a peaceful demeanor throughout all the demeaning therapy – from chemo to radiation to not being able to continue at times because of the nausea and not being able to take any medicine for the nausea because she’s allergic to most of them.

It’s about how I called her today and she told me that she’s getting ready to go on hospice and doesn’t think she’ll live to see her next birthday (at the beginning of November this year).  I haven’t seen her since last year, due to my own illness. I told her I’d come down if she needs me, but she said no, she didn’t want to put that kind of liability on me or anyone. I asked, “Well, couldn’t I come to your house so you can stay there?”

“No,” she said. “Hospice has changed. I don’t have any family members, so I can’t have someone here. I have some decisions to make now,” she continued.

This is the woman who gave me a place to live for three years after I got back from teaching in Korea the first time. This is the woman who helped me buy a car, a computer and a comfortable mattress. I’m happy to say I did pay her back eventually.

I don’t want to not be able to call her number and not find her at the other end of the phone. I don’t want to think I may not get to see her again after all. I don’t want to face the inevitable happening of her death.

I have a friend up here in South Carolina. I called her a couple of weeks ago, only to find out that she had not only had another stroke, but she had a heart attack at the same time and they didn’t know if she was going to make it. Fortunately, she did make it. “But I’m feeling a little weak,” she told me today.

Being so ill for the last many months, I’ve had a lot of time to think about many different things, about what’s important and what’s not. I’ve thought about my own death and wondered what I would do if I knew approximately how long I had left to live. Here is the little list I came up with.

1. I would smile more and complain less.

2. I would make sure I told everyone I love how much I love them.

3. I would not worry about how much I weigh.

4. I would find new homes for some of my favorite things that my daughter and grandson don’t want.

5. I would definitely find a new and loving home for my precious kitties.

6. I would visit all my dearest friends and family one last time.

7. I would finish my book. Maybe I’d better get started on this one, what do you think?

8. I would go to help at the soup kitchen more.

9. I would leave all my papers for my daughter to go through.

and 10. I would thank God every day for all I have.

I know I can’t stop Janet’s death. I also know I need to continue LOSING weight in order for me to have a longer life! But some things I can do now, like smiling more and complaining less.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope that if you’ve lost someone recently, you know he or she is in a better place, just waiting to say, “Hello,” again one day.

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